Laos: UNICEF provides Covid-19 response learning materials

Vientiane, Feb 28 (Vientiane Times/ANN): UNICEF has provided education materials worth more than 33.6 billion kip (US$3.6 million) to help implement the Education Response Plan of the Ministry of Education and Sports.

The materials provided to the ministry consist of textbooks, teachers’ guides and other learning materials for use by about 760,000 children from pre-primary to secondary school levels, and over 35,000 teachers across the country, and are valued at more than 20.5 billion kip (US$2.2 million).

Additionally, almost one million children in kindergarten, pre-primary and primary schools will receive soap, cleaning and other hygiene materials to support Covid-19 prevention measures in schools, worth more than 13 billion kip (US$1.4 million).

These materials have been procured with funding from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Covid-19 Accelerated Grant and will support the overall Covid-19 education response as stated in the Education Response Plan.

The educational supplies were handed over by UNICEF to the Ministry of Education and Sports on Monday.

Deputy Minister of Education and Sports, Associate Prof. Dr Phouth Simmalavong, said “With these additional materials, we will work with provincial and district offices to ensure that teachers give each student his or her own textbook and learning materials and take them home with clear instructions on how to take good care of the books.”

Grades 1 and 2 textbooks are also printed in Braille for children with visual impairments. As textbooks can last 2-3 school calendar years, more students and teachers are expected to benefit.

The aim is to ensure that each student gets her or his own textbook, particularly in remote schools, so that children can take them home in case schools have to be closed for various emergencies.

Representative of UNICEF to Laos, Dr Pia Rebello Britto, said “When schools closed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many students across the country saw their learning paths interrupted as not all students had access to e-learning platforms or textbooks. Having students have their own textbooks, workbooks and learning materials is very important for their learning and literacy development. Thus, these materials will help Lao children to develop to their full potential and this, in turn, will contribute to the development of the nation.”

As part of the GPE Covid-19 grant support, all public kindergartens, pre-primary and primary schools across the country have received hygiene materials.

Provision of clean water and handwashing facilities for selected schools will also be supported by the grant.

UNICEF is complementing this support with continued risk communication around Covid-19 prevention and control in schools, and other interventions under the WASH in Schools programme.

The GPE Covid-19 grant is very timely as it helps to help fill a gap in the education budget.

The support from the Global Partnership for Education as well as additional funding from partners such as Australia, the European Union and the World Bank is crucial to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on education. - Vientiane Times/ANN

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